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  Agenda Item   19.    
City Council Meeting
Meeting Date: 11/15/2022  
FROM: Bill Gallardo

Subject:
Brea Fire Code Triennial Adoption
RECOMMENDATION
Open and conduct a public hearing concerning Ordinance No. 1233; Approval of an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (Guidelines, Sec. 15061(b)(3)) and Staff’s filing of a Notice of Exemption for Ordinance No. 1233; Adopt Ordinance No. 1233 which adopts by reference the 2022 California Fire Code (one of the Codes comprising the 2022 California Building Standards Code as set forth in Title 24 of the California Code of Regulations); and, adopt Resolution No. 2022-069, setting forth required findings for amendments to the foregoing Code based on local climatic, topographical and/or geological conditions. Approval of an exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (Guidelines, Sec. 15061(b)(3).
BACKGROUND/DISCUSSION
Health and Safety Code Section 17922 and 18938 require the City to adopt by reference Codes comprising the California Building Standards Code, which includes the California Fire Code (“Fire Code”), every three (3) years together with any amendments to building standards contained in those Codes. Otherwise, all building standards contained in those Codes, including the Fire Code, but excluding any local amendments, will become effective as to all occupancies in the City as of January 1, 2023.

This Ordinance will amend Title 16 of the Brea Municipal Code by repealing references to the prior edition of the Fire Code and replacing them with references to the 2022 Fire Code, together with any City amendments.

Similar to past code adoptions, the Fire Department is recommending changes and modifications be made to the 2022 Fire Code and is advising that said changes are reasonable and necessary due to local conditions in the City of Brea. Other modifications are of an administrative or procedural nature and relate to subjects that are not covered by the Fire Code or are otherwise reasonably necessary to safeguard life and property within the City of Brea.

A detailed list of the proposed changes can be found in the Resolution along with a number of technical findings which are legally necessary in order to amend building standards contained in the new Fire Code, and are described later in this report.

The proposed Fire Code amendments are consistent with the safeguards previously adopted in the City of Brea and are carried over from the 2019 Fire Code in order to maintain the higher level of safety required in Brea due to local conditions.

DISCUSSION  
The proposed local amendments to the Fire Code focus, generally, on local conditions generated by Brea’s proximity to fire hazard zones, seismic faults and oil land operations. Brea is located in northern Orange County and is abutted by natural undeveloped hills to the north and Carbon Canyon Regional Park and Chino Hills State Park to the east. These open hills have historically been known for oil production, agriculture, Santa Ana winds and increasing seismic activity. Because of Brea’s unique geology, topography and climate, special attention is needed in order to better safeguard buildings, occupants and residents. The State allows for enhancements to the Fire Code when such conditions occur.

The Brea hills have been known for occasional fires but none more well-known than the November 15, 2008, “Freeway Complex Fire,” a fire which originated in Corona. With the help of the dry season and the Santa Ana winds, the fire spread through Yorba Linda, south Anaheim Hills, and eventually along Carbon Canyon Road in Brea. The rapid spread of the fire, along with the difficult topography and access conditions, made the fire incident difficult to handle. The Fire Department has made code changes to help reduce damages caused by such events. Currently, staff is proposing to amend the sprinkler provision in the 2022 Fire Code to include major remodels and additions to buildings, which would greatly enhance the safety of our residents. These proposed changes are found in Chapter Nine (9) of the Fire Code and are consistent with the previous Brea Fire Code amendments.

Along with the sprinkler provisions, code changes that enhance our High and Very High Fire Hazard Areas have been proposed. The Fire Department has long adopted and enforced a Fuel Modification Guideline for High Fire Hazard Areas which mandates that new and existing developments design, install and maintain landscaping areas in order to meet safety requirements in the Fire Hazard Areas.

Access of Brea fire apparatus is critical when responding to calls. That is why access road dimensions, turning radius changes are proposed to clearly document what dimensions are safe for our apparatus. Enhancements to the address identification requirement for all buildings is also amended so that identification by our emergency response staff is made effortlessly.

Along with the seismic faults, Santa Ana winds, and Fire Hazard Areas, Brea is also known for its oil production. As land becomes more and more scarce, development pushes deeper and deeper into previous oil fields. The natural oil and gas seepage has been well documented in certain areas in Brea. This gas, better known as methane, is an offset issue and is a potential hazard if not properly mitigated. The Brea Fire Department is aware of these potential hazards and have continually enforced the “City of Brea Combustible Soil-Gas Guideline." This guideline requires future development to address the methane gas hazard and requires mitigation measures such as methane boot barriers. The barriers are placed under buildings to prevent gases from penetrating foundations. There are other passive and active mitigation requirements that, when properly enforced and installed, greatly improve the safety of our residents and occupants.

The Brea Fire Department and the Building & Safety Division work together to plan check, inspect, and develop these guidelines and are proud to continue the adoption of such Code changes which are essential for the safety of our buildings and residents.

The Brea Fire Department has carefully reviewed the proposed Fire Code changes and has made an effort to reduce the Code changes to those only reasonably necessary to the City of Brea because of its climatic, geological or topographical conditions. The Brea Fire Department is confident that by the approval of the proposed Code changes, Brea will be a safer City.

The City Attorney has reviewed and approved the format of all documents associated with the 2022 California Fire Code adoption process.

Ordinance 1233 was introduced at the October 18, 2022 City Council Meeting.
 
Environmental Review
The proposed Ordinance has been assessed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines and the environmental regulations of the City. Pursuant to CEQA guidelines Section 15061(b)(3), the proposed Ordinance is exempt from the requirements to prepare additional environmental documentation as it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that adoption of the ordinance may have a significant effect on the environment. The proposed updates to the 2022 Fire Code are consistent with the safeguards previously adopted in the City of Brea and are carried over from the 2019 Code in order to maintain the higher level of safety required in Brea due to local conditions and as such, it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that this action may have a significant effect on the environment.

FISCAL IMPACT/SUMMARY
The approval of the 2022 Fire Code has no impact on the General Fund.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED:
William Gallardo, City Manager
Prepared by:  Peter Salgado, Acting Fire Marshal
Concurrence:  George Avery, Fire Chief
Attachments
A. Resolution
B. Ordinance 1233

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